The foolish ones with a sand foundation (Mt 7:26-7:27)

“Everyone

Who hears

My words,

But does not act

On them,

Will be

Like a foolish man.

The foolish man

Built his house

On sand.

The rains fell.

The floods came.

The winds blew.

They beat

Against that house.

It fell.

Great was its fall.”

 

καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἀκούων μου τοὺς λόγους τούτους καὶ μὴ ποιῶν αὐτοὺς ὁμοιωθήσεται ἀνδρὶ μωρῷ, ὅστις ᾠκοδόμησεν αὐτοῦ τὴν οἰκίαν ἐπὶ τὴν ἄμμον.

καὶ κατέβη ἡ βροχὴ καὶ ἦλθον οἱ ποταμοὶ καὶ ἔπνευσαν οἱ ἄνεμοι καὶ προσέκοψαν τῇ οἰκίᾳ ἐκείνῃ, καὶ ἔπεσεν, καὶ ἦν ἡ πτῶσις αὐτῆς μεγάλη

 

These verses are just like Luke, chapter 6:49, which might indicate a Q source.  The opposite of the preceding verses is present here.  Everyone who heard these words of Jesus (καὶ πᾶς ὁ ἀκούων μου τοὺς λόγους τούτους) but did nothing about them (καὶ μὴ ποιῶν αὐτοὺς), as opposed to those who acted upon them, were like a foolish or stupid man (ὁμοιωθήσεται ἀνδρὶ μωρῷ).  These foolish people built a house on a sand foundation or sandy ground (ὅστις ᾠκοδόμησεν αὐτοῦ τὴν οἰκίαν ἐπὶ τὴν ἄμμον), not a rock foundation.  It is interesting to note that these must have been former followers of Jesus, since they had heard his words, not people who had never heard about Jesus, indicating a rift among the followers of Jesus.  The rains fell (καὶ κατέβη ἡ βροχὴ) and the floods came (καὶ ἦλθον οἱ ποταμοὶ), just as the preceding verses.  Winds would blow (καὶ ἔπνευσαν οἱ ἄνεμοι) and beat against this house also (καὶ προσέπεσαν τῇ οἰκίᾳ ἐκείνῃ).  However, there was a different result here.  The house fell (καὶ ἔπεσεν) because it was built on a sand foundation.  The rock foundation was those who had followed the words of Jesus.  The sand foundation was those who heard the words of Jesus but did not follow it.  Their house would suffer not just a fall, but a great fall (καὶ ἦν ἡ πτῶσις αὐτῆς μεγάλη).  It was not good enough to hear the words of Jesus, you had to act on them.

Advertisements

No more pity for Jerusalem (Jer 15:6-15:9)

“Says Yahweh.

‘You have rejected me!

You are going backward.

I have stretched out my hand

Against you.

I destroyed you.

I am weary of relenting.

I have winnowed them

With a winnowing fork

In the gates of the land.

I have bereaved them.

I have destroyed my people.

They did not turn from their ways.

I have made their widows

More numerous than the sand of the seas.

I have brought

Against the mothers of young men

A destroyer at noonday.

I have made anguish fall on her suddenly.

I have made terror fall on her suddenly.

She who bore seven has languished.

She has swooned away.

Her sun went down

While it was yet day.

She has been shamed.

She has been disgraced.

The rest of them

I will give to the sword

Before their enemies.’

Says Yahweh.”

Yahweh, via Jeremiah, says that they have rejected and turned against him. Thus Yahweh stretched out his hand and destroyed them. He was tired of forgiving them. He tried to winnow them out to find the good ones. He made them sad by destroying them. They would not turn away from their evil ways. Thus they may have more widows than all the sand in the seas. That is quite a big hyperbolic number. The destroyer came at noon against young mothers. Even strong women who had 7 children were fainting. The sun was setting before the day was done since they were ashamed and disgraced. Anyone left over would suffer the hardship of the deadly sword.

The stubborn rebellious heart (Jer 5:22-5:25)

“‘Do you not fear me?’

Says Yahweh.

‘Do you not tremble before me?

I placed the sand

As a boundary for the sea.

This is a perpetual barrier

That it cannot pass.

Though the waves toss,

They cannot prevail.

Though they roar,

They cannot pass over it.

But these people have a stubborn heart.

They have a rebellious heart.

They have turned aside.

They have gone away.

They do not say in their hearts.

‘Let us fear Yahweh our God.

He gives the rain in its season.

He gives the autumn rain.

He gives the spring rain.

He keeps for us

The weeks appointed for the harvest.’

Your iniquities have turned these away.

Your sins have deprived you of good.”

Why don’t they fear Yahweh? Why don’t they tremble before him? Yahweh has placed sand as a perpetual barrier against the sea so that the sea cannot pass over it. Even though the waves toss and roar, they still were not able to prevail and pass over the sand. They have a stubborn and rebellious heart. They have turned away and gone astray. They do not fear Yahweh their God. Yahweh gives the perfect rain for every season with autumn and spring rains. Yet they have sunshine for the harvest time. Yahweh, via Jeremiah reminds them that their iniquities have turned them away from him. Their sins have deprived them of the good things in life.

Stay away from stupid people (Sir 22:13-22:15)

“Do not talk much

With a senseless person!

Without sense,

He will despise

Everything about you.

Do not visit

An unintelligent person!

Stay clear of him!

You may have trouble.

You may be spattered

When he shakes himself off.

Avoid him!

Then you will find rest.

You will never be wearied

By his lack of sense.

What is heavier than lead?

What is its name

Except ‘Fool’?

Sand is easier to bear

Than a stupid person.

Salt is easier to bear

Than a stupid person.

A piece of iron is easier to bear

Than a stupid person.”

Sirach warns us to stay away from stupid people. Do not talk to these senseless people. They will despise you for your intelligence. There is a kind of elitism here. He did not want you to visit with unintelligent people. Stay away from them when they shake themselves like animals, because some of their filth might spatter on you. If you stay away from them, you will not be weary of their senseless talk. A fool is heavier to bear than lead. Practically everything is easier to live with than a stupid person. Thus sand, salt, and iron is better than these stupid senseless fools.

The esteemed wisdom (Wis 7:7-7:14)

“Therefore I prayed.

Understanding was given to me.

I called on God.

The spirit of wisdom came to me.

I preferred her to scepters and thrones.

I accounted wealth as nothing

In comparison with her.

Neither did I liken to her any priceless gem.

Because all gold is

But a little sand in her sight.

Silver will be accounted

As clay before her.

I loved her more than health.

I loved her more than beauty.

I chose to have her rather than light.

Her radiance never ceases.

All good things came to me

Along with her.

In her hands

I had uncounted wealth.

I rejoiced in them all.

Because wisdom leads them.

But I did not know

That she was their mother.

I learned without guile.

I impart without grudging.

I do not hide her wealth.

It is an unfailing treasure for mortals.

Those who get it

Obtain friendship with God.

They are commended for the gifts

That come from instruction.”

One again, assuming the first person singular of King Solomon, this author says that he prayed to God for wisdom. Understanding was given to him. The spirit of wisdom came to him (μοι πνεῦμα σοφίας). Scepters, thrones, and wealth were nothing in comparison to wisdom. Priceless gems, gold (χρυσὸς), and silver were like sand and clay compared to wisdom. He loved wisdom more than health, beauty, or light (φωτὸς) because the radiance of wisdom never ceases. Not only did he get wisdom, he also got any number of other gifts. He had wealth because wisdom was the mother or fount of all his wealth. He did not hide this treasure of wisdom. He gave this to other mortals so that they might be friends of God (οἱ χρησάμενοι πρὸς Θεὸν) with further learning and instruction (παιδείας).

Yahweh provides nourishment in the desert (Ps 78:23-78:29)

“Yet he commanded the skies above.

He opened the doors of heaven.

He rained down on them manna to eat.

He gave them the grain of heaven.

Mortals ate of the bread of the angels.

He sent them food in abundance.

He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens.

By his power he led out the south wind.

He rained flesh upon them like dust.

Winged birds like the sand of the seas.

He let them fall within their camp.

They were all around their dwellings.

They ate.

They were well filled.

He gave them what they craved.”

Yahweh was kind to the Israelites. He opened the skies of heaven and let manna rain down on them. Here this manna is called the bread of angels. This is an embellishment of the story in Exodus, chapter 16. There the manna was more quizzical “what is this stuff?” Here, this is the grain or bread of angels as if angels had to eat food like humans. Here, instead of quails it is winged birds that fall from the sky. These winged birds were as plentiful as dust on the earth or sand in the seas. They ate the manna and birds until they were filled. They got what they were asking for.

King Ptolemy VI of Egypt visits Syria (1 Macc 11:1-11:3)

“Then the king of Egypt gathered great forces, like the sand by the seashore, and many ships. He tried to get possession of Alexander’s kingdom by trickery. He wanted to add it to his own kingdom. He set out for Syria with peaceable words. The people of the towns opened their gates to him. They went to meet him, because King Alexander had commanded them to meet him, since he was King Alexander’s father-in-law. However, when King Ptolemy entered the towns he stationed forces as a garrison in each town.”

King Ptolemy VI of Egypt, father-in-law to King Alexander I of Syria, went to visit Syria. He had a great army like the sand by the sea. He wanted to add Syria to his own kingdom, although he seemed to come in peace. His daughter was the wife of King Alexander I. Every town opened their gates to King Ptolemy VI because the Syrian king told them to do that. However, then the Egyptian king would leave a garrison of troops in each town.